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[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Exodus, Part 1"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: Exodus, Part 1 As Tigh and the resistance coordinate Sharon s infiltration of a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2006
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      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

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      Battlestar Galactica: "Exodus, Part 1"

      As Tigh and the resistance coordinate Sharon's infiltration of a Cylon base
      on New Caprica, Adama and the Galactica prepare for their most important
      rescue mission yet.

      Air date: 10/13/2006 (USA)
      Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
      Directed by Felix Alcala

      Rating out of 4: **1/2

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
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      The most simplistic yet accurate one-line review for "Exodus, Part 1" that I
      could possibly write is: "All setup, no payoff." This episode is one hour of
      setup material, with no release and, surprisingly enough, not much suspense
      or tension. It's background material. Necessary? Absolutely. Satisfying? Not
      exactly.

      It's a simple fact that any reasonable storytelling must have ebb and flow.
      This is definitely the ebb part. Let me reiterate that this show contains
      plenty of useful and necessary storytelling, but after
      "Occupation/Precipice," this *feels* like an episode that's spinning its
      wheels -- even when, strictly speaking, it's not. Perhaps it has something
      to do with the awe factor: Once we've gotten over the initial shock of where
      all the characters are, we must now follow them around on this rock, and
      that's not as intriguing here as it might've been.

      Let's start with the quasi-cheat structure of the opening act. "Precipice"
      ended with a cliffhanger where it looked like Roslin and dozens more were
      about to be executed in a mass machine-gunning. "Exodus, Part 1" begins with
      the declarative title "one hour earlier," and we see events that are
      undoubtedly going to retroactively impact the outcome of last week's
      cliffhanger ending.

      Tyrol gets wind of the death order that the Cylons drew up (and Baltar
      signed), and must now, with a small team of soldiers, do everything he can
      to stop it -- especially since his wife Cally is on the list. Apparently to
      give the story a more personal angle (as if Roslin, Zarek, and dozens more
      about toe be shot weren't enough), the episode feels a need to make Tyrol go
      into a fit of hyperventilating. We must stop the Cylons now, because
      "They've got Cally!"

      Tyrol's rescue is crosscut with Anders' team rendezvousing with Sharon as
      the first step in Galactica's evacuation plan. The Cylons open fire on
      Anders' team because their position has been betrayed by Ellen, for reasons
      that one can understand but not forgive. Did she even realize the stakes
      involved? No, she did not.

      Crosscutting the attack on Anders' team with the rescue of the prisoners by
      Tyrol's team is a nice try editorial-wise, but ultimately it's a little
      muddled. The scene, for example, never shows how Tyrol's team took out the
      half-dozen Cylon Centurions that were about to shoot the prisoners. So far
      as I can tell, the Centurions simply vanished after the machinegun fire
      started. Did Tyrol's team have RPGs like Anders' team did? If so, we don't
      see them.

      After the opening action, "Exodus, Part 1" settles into a series of scenes
      that might best be described as scene-setting for "Exodus, Part 2." Yes,
      it's all relevant, but a lot of it we already knew. There are scenes where
      Roslin reiterates the importance of Maya and her mysterious child, which she
      ominously refers to as "the shape of things to come." And there's the issue
      of Ellen, whom Anders immediately knows is the one who betrayed them (the
      Cylons who attacked them had the map she was supposed to burn). The moment
      Tigh learns of his wife's betrayal is the ultimate in dramatic rubber bands
      stretched to the max but somehow not permitted to break. The breaking will
      evidently come next week.

      Meanwhile, Cylon D'Anna has a strange dream and/or premonition about a human
      oracle and a child. She visits the temple from her dream and the oracle
      tells her, in not so many words, that Sharon's child Hera is still alive.
      While it's been established before that Cylons can "see patterns" regarding
      the future, this to me feels like a convenient narrative shortcut that
      steers clear of potentially more interesting real-world scenarios for this
      discovery. Rather than coming up with a plot- or character-based situation
      for how the Cylons learn that Hera still lives, the writers fall back on the
      more arbitrary spiritual/mystical explanation. Part of me feels like this is
      a cop-out.

      Still, this leads to the episode's single most engaging character dynamic,
      where Sharon breaks into the Cylon base and is discovered by D'Anna, who
      tells her that Hera is still very much alive. Sharon's response is the most
      interesting and foreboding line in the show: "Adama wouldn't lie to me."
      Sharon carries out the mission successfully and obtains the launch codes,
      but you just know that this dialog exchange is going to come back to haunt
      everybody. After all of Adama's talk about trust, this betrayal --
      regardless of the situation and what was said to whom and when -- is going
      to be a devastating blow to all the understandings that Adama and Sharon
      have reached in the past year, and who knows what the consequences will
      ultimately be.

      It's the one good payoff in an episode that is otherwise content to provide
      only setup and atmosphere. This series has a tendency to stand studiously on
      ceremony, and I often appreciate that tendency. But I also occasionally grow
      restless about it. This episode has so much emotional/atmospheric pre-battle
      preparation on Galactica that it comes dangerously close to cliche, no
      matter how earnest and well performed it is. There's the flight-deck prayer,
      the salt poured on the floor, the shaking of hands, the well-wishing, and
      Lee and Adama hugging for what they both expect will be the last time. All
      of this is done with utter conviction. But it also betrays a certain air of
      false suspense -- because, let's face it, the mission is obviously going to
      be successful in next week's "Exodus, Part 2," where the title itself is the
      confirmation to what is already a foregone conclusion.

      So when Adama makes his speech just before the Galactica jumps to New
      Caprica for a mission that (if successful) will be remembered for
      generations to come, I can appreciate the intention, but it's certainly not
      a case where drama and suspense are the same thing.

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      Copyright 2006, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Jammer's Reviews - http://www.jammersreviews.com
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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